When Herbs Go Sweet: Baking with Fresh Herbs

It’s time to invite herbs to your dessert plate.

Want to use your herbs to the fullest this spring? We've partnered with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share our tips, insights and favorite recipes using herbs.

Fresh herbs are as versatile as an ingredient can get. Everyone already has their go-to applications when it comes to using herbs in salads, as flavoring ingredients in dips and sauces or as bold additions to stews or on roasts. But using fresh herbs in sweets? Behold a whole new universe of possibilities.

As we mentioned previously about herbs pairing up with other foods, the same applies when introducing them into sweets. Strawberries and other plump red berries scream out for basil or tarragon (as you’ll see below in our Panna Cotta recipe), while sharper flavors like citrus make quite the accompaniment to earthier herb flavors like rosemary. The key is less about selecting the right herbs and more about leveraging the right quantity, as sweets tend to distribute bold flavor more efficiently throughout a dish than a savory one would. When experimenting, less is more at first, since it’s always easier to sass up a dish that’s a bit lacking than to have a dish ruined from herb-induced overkill.

Sweets of all kinds can benefit from incorporating herbs. Dairy-based “set desserts” like panna cotta, crème brulee or puddings are a fantastic (and make-ahead) option, but don’t be afraid to bake, either. The density and sturdiness of scones and cookies make them easy sweet vehicles for your herbs to hold up in, structurally. (Some good combos off the top of our head: Thyme-grapefruit, ginger-purple basil, chive-lemon – get creative.) And, cakes with a savory twinge like olive oil or cheesecake will also serve quite well with a pop of herbs.

Live.Love.Lux Tip: When it comes to making desserts, even, consistent baking has never been easier — thanks to Perfect Taste Convection in the Electrolux wall oven.

Tarragon Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries

"The strawberries can be roasted up to a week in advance of serving and the panna cotta up to three days in advance. Also feel free to substitute creme fraiche for the buttermilk for an even more indulgent dessert, or whole milk if that is more readily available." — Ashley

Servings: 6



2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup/ 15 grams fresh tarragon leaves

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, split

1/2 cup cold water

2 packets gelatin

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 pound strawberries, halved (large ones quartered)

2 tablespoons sugar


For the panna cotta:
Add the cream to a medium saucepan and set over medium low heat. Gently crush the tarragon in your hands to release some of the oils before adding it to the pot. Stir in the sugar and add the vanilla bean now if you are using. Slowly bring this mixture to a simmer.

While the cream comes to a simmer, add the water and gelatin to a large bowl. Stir and set aside to bloom.

When the cream has come to a simmer strain it into the gelatin mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract (if you didn’t already use a vanilla bean), salt, and buttermilk.

Pour this into six small serving cups and refrigerate until set. About 2 hours although they can be made up to three days in advance. Once set, cover the panna cotta with plastic wrap if you don’t plan to serve them that day.

For the strawberries:
Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Add the strawberries to the pan creating a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle on the sugar and roast for 30 minutes or until the strawberries are soft, caramelized in parts and have left off some of their juice. To leave the strawberries whole do not stir but if you’d prefer a more jam-like topping feel free to give them a bit of a stir throughout the roasting process.

Serve the warm strawberries over the just-cool panna cotta.

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